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I don't know what's the correct technical audio term for it. How do you create the sound effect to simulate hearing a sound source from far away through thick walls? Kinda like you would hear standing outside a club house where music is playing loudly inside and you only hear the muffled bass.

Please be technically detailed.

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4 Answers 4

To create a muffled sound, you need to alter the equalization of the audio clip. If you're familiar with highs, mids, and lows, it is natural to eliminate the treble in order to create the desired effect. Afterwards, you can also decrease the mids to keep it below the decibel level of the bass. If you have the bass, mids, and trebles in decreasing levels of decibels you should have your muffled sound.

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As the other comment said. Try a low-pass parametric filter. Adjust the frequency down to about 300 Hz, maybe lower, and see how you go.

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Can you be more technically specific about the best practices since I'm sure it's a well defined solution by now. i.e. what Q factor to use and what slope for the filter? Also, since this type of effects are commonly used in electronic music in a transient way, are all filter parameters typically kept constant and just the cutoff frequency is changed during playback? –  xster Jul 30 '13 at 6:37
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use your ears - consider the context: dialogue (male? female? raised voice? quiet?) sound FX & foley (subtle? violent?) all need to be treated to varying degrees to achieve a result that an audience will find plausible & 'real' - there is no best practice Q factor & slope, best practice = 'use your ears' –  user49 Jan 26 at 0:33

I agree with what's been said, although don't forget that part of what gives a sound its off-axis/down-the-hall timbre is how it resonates through the building materials. So yes, highs will drop off but you'll likely need to bump sonewhere between 180 - 400 Hz where there's a nice resonant quality, just be careful of the 300 Hz muddiness. This is where a bit of reverb, or better yet an IR, will help seal the deal. Sometimes a short slap delay will help to, since early reflections are how our ears identify the space in which a sound propogates.

EQ is but one part of the puzzle.

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I've had great luck using a home made impulse response created by slamming a 2x4 plank on the floor upstairs with a hammer hard, while recording it downstairs. Try taking the top of your sound off with a filter and send it through an IR like that.

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